Introducing... another side to The Press's jazz columnist, John Marley, the bass and electric guitarist in the York Theatre Royal pantomime band

How does a musician make a living in the modern day and age?

Commonly it includes a combination of performances, teaching, and a number of other activities that contribute to a healthy living. Regular performance work with dance bands, theatre tours, etc, still exists but has been in decline for a number of years. Technological advances mean that a convincing representation of a live band, or even a full orchestra can be created quickly and inexpensively on a home computer.

When live musicians are used in theatre shows, they are often tucked away under the stage or worse still, in a dressing room watching the action on a TV screen. Fortunately some shows see past these technological developments and see the benefits of having live musicians, not hidden away in a dark corner, but out front and interacting with the show in real time.

When I was offered the role of playing in the band for the York Theatre Royal pantomime, Old Mother Goose, being a relative newcomer to this world, a certain amount of trepidation loomed, created by some clichéd ideas I had about this very British art form. Fortunately these were soon dismissed after a few days of working with a band of talented musicians and seeing first hand the creative elements that go into developing an excellent show.

The Theatre Royal pantomime has a great loyalty to its creative staff and this seems to be the case with the musicians as well. Drummer Nigel Harvey has been playing the kit, whistles, rattles and every other percussion instrument you can imagine for 18 years. Multi-instrumentalist Danny Hammerton has been a regular fixture for many years too, showing an impressive talent on trumpet, trombone and sax. Musical director Elliot Styche is in his second year and has risen to the task with some excellent arrangements and a great rapport with musicians and actors alike.

There are few jobs left for the working musician where you can play a wide variety of styles, exercise some creativity, make 800 people smile and have a chat with them on the way out. Fortunately, theYork Theatre Royal pantomime is one of them.

Old Mother Goose runs at York Theatre Royal until January 31. Box office: 01904 623568 or at